Immigrants John and Anna Huppeler1, with their six children, arrived at the Port of New York in April 1874.2 Two months later, at the Circuit Court of Monroe County, Wisconsin, a declaration of intention to become a citizen of the United States was signed by John Huppler.3 Then nearly a year later, the name John Huppler appears on the Wisconsin state census. As of June 1, 1875, he and his household were residing in Burns Township, La Crosse County.4 The census record indicates that there were four males and four females in the household, presumably these are John and his sons Christian, John and Friedrich and his wife Anna and daughters Rosetta, Anna Elizabeth5 and Lena. This census of Burns Township also includes the household of John’s brother Jacob Hueppler, which had two males and three females.6 There is also a David Hueppler, which is probably another brother of John, having two males and two females in the household.7
Tragically, both John and Anna Huppler lose their lives within several months of being recorded on the 1875 Wisconsin census. A century after their deaths, in a tribute to their daughter Anna Elizabeth’s 105th birthday, a statement is made: “When she was 6 her mother died and 6 mo. later, her father died. The 6 kids were placed with different families.”8 (According to other documentation of her age, Anna Elizabeth was actually eight years old when her parents died.) The ages of the other children were: Christian, about 12; Rosetta, age 10; John, age 6 or 7; Friedrich, age 5 and Lena, age 3.
So, what became of these six children? There is some family lore and a few documents that lead us to some possibilities of where the children were placed. One family historian, a descendant of Lena, obtained from a descendant of Christian a copy of a document dated March 4, 1876, signed by two Supervisors of the town of Burns in La Crosse County, Wisconsin. The document bound Christian as an indentured servant to William Sawyer of Burns until Christian reached the age of 21 years-old. A portion of the document reads as follows:
“… Whereas Christian Huppler now 13 years of age, a minor son of John Huppler and his wife Anna, late of said Burns, both deceased, is a resident of said town of Burns and destitute of means of support and has become a charge whom said town for support …. The Supervisors of the town of Burns have and by these presents do put and bind this said Christian Huppler unto the said William Sawyer as a servant for and until he shall have attained the full age of 21 years which will be on 22 Aug 1884 during which time the said servant shall serve his master faithfully, honestly and industriously…. The said William Sawyer hereby covenants, promises and agrees to and with said Board of Supervisors that he will furnish and provide said Christian Huppler with suitable and sufficient clothing, board and food and proper care, medical attendance in case of sickness and cause him within the said term to be instructed to read and write and in the general rules of mathematics and use him with proper care and extend to him suitable treatment and at the end of said terms he will give to said Christian Huppler the sum of $100. And for the time performance of all and singular this covenants and agreements aforesaid, the said parties bind themselves each unto the other firmly by these presents. In witness whereof the parties have set their hands and seals 4 Mar 1876.”9
William Sawyer was a farmer who had been living in La Crosse County since at least 1860 (his name is on the 1860 U. S. Census of the town of Bangor).10 According to the 1870 U. S. Census for Burns, William Sawyer’s household included his wife and three children, as well as another child, two farm laborers and a domestic servant.11 Christian himself can be found on the 1880 U. S. Census as part of the William Sawyer household, which was still residing in Burns.12 This census record identifies 16 year-old Christian’s relationship to the head of the household as “servant” and his occupation as “farm hand.” Christian also attended school within the census year and he could read and write. The birth place listed for Christian and his parents is “Switland” (this is assumed to be Switzerland).
According to the widow of one of Christian Huppler’s sons, the Huppler girls were raised by families with the name of McIntyre, Campbell and Christians, and she said that young John Huppler was raised by his uncle Jacob Huppler.13 She also said that “one boy died young of malaria after moving south.” As yet I have not been able to locate the placements of Rosetta nor Friedrich Huppler, but I have collected some information about Anna Elizabeth, John and Lena.
Sorting out who Anna Elizabeth was raised by and when she left Wisconsin has been difficult to determine. According to the above-mentioned article written when Anna Elizabeth turned 105-years-old, as an orphaned child “she lived and worked with the Alex McIntyre family” and the article also states that “two of her … brothers came to South Dakota and when she was 16 she joined them.”14 Alternatively, the text of the funeral folder of Anna Elizabeth seems to contradict the article, stating, “In 1880 she came to South Dakota with the William MacIntyre family.”15 William McIntyre was an early settler and businessman in Codington County, South Dakota (one source states that his arrival in Dakota Territory was in 1877, not 1880).16
“William and Adelaide [his wife] came to the tree claim he had staked two miles west of what is now Watertown. They were accompanied by a large contingent of settlers including two of his brothers. …They were very active in the early years of the city. He served as mayor and was appointed to the group authorized to organize Codington County.”17
Anna Elizabeth might not have actually moved to South Dakota at the same time as William McIntyre. In the 1880 U. S. Census of Sparta, Wisconsin, there is a record of a 13 year-old girl by the name of Annie in the household of Ester McIntyre who was married (not widowed), but her husband wasn’t in the household at the time the census was taken.18 The relationship of Annie to the head of the household (Ester) is recorded as “adopted.” According to a posting about Esther McIntyre on the Find-a-Grave website, Esther’s husband was Alexander McIntyre and they had adopted Annie.19 Perhaps this is Anna Elizabeth Huppler. Another posting on this website indicates that Alexander McIntyre moved to Watertown, South Dakota in 1886.20 If Anna Elizabeth did go to South Dakota when she was sixteen (which was 1883), then she may have left from the Alex McIntyre home, three years before he moved to South Dakota.
Possible confirmation of the statement that young John Huppler was raised by his uncle Jacob comes from a census record that actually leaves us with some uncertainty due to spelling inconsistencies. There is an 1880 U. S. Census record of a man named Jacob Hipler, living in Burns, Wisconsin21, the same town where Jacob Huppler was living when the Wisconsin state census was taken in 1875. The Jacob of this 1880 census record is from Switzerland, as well as the two children in the household. One of the children is named John, but the other is listed as Laura. Yet both of the children are in the age range of John and Lena Huppler. In the census record, their relationships to the head of the household are: son and daughter.
After eight and a half years, the indenture of Christian Huppler was completed on August 23, 1884 when he turned 21 years-old. Two years later he made his way to Codington County, South Dakota and began farming.22 Apparently, Christian’s relationship with his master William Sawyer was a good one, and after settling in South Dakota, Christian wrote to William. This fact is known due to the existence of a letter written by William’s daughter Lena Sawyer to Christian. Lena Sawyer’s letter states that she was writing a week after William Sawyer received a letter from Christian. In her letter dated September 15, 1889, she calls herself his friend, she tells him of her impressions of South Dakota and informs him of the doings of the members of her family. According to the wife of a family historian who is a descendant of Lena, the text of the letter reads:
“Father received your letter last week. We are glad to know that you keep well and like Dakota. I think it is just the place for young men and women too if they have plenty of courage. I have often thought that I would like to own a piece of land in Dakota but could not well take a homestead. What kind did you get and are there any claims near yours. I want land for speculation, not for a home for I could not stand Dakota winters. I think some of taking a trip to Huron this fall to visit the cousins there. Susie and Johnnie have moved to Mankato, MN. Mother went East the middle of July. She returned last week and brought a niece with her from NY. Frank went to CA the first of July. He thinks of spending a year in a law school at San Francisco then will settle in Stockton. Said he would not be back for 10 years. Allie has been home a month. She is going to teach in the Graded School at Long Prairie next year. Helen is at home. She is very anxious to learn short-hand and type-writing. Edgar has moved to LaCrosse and working at carpentry. Your friend, Lena”23
The 1915 South Dakota state census record of Lena Bevers indicates that she had been living in South Dakota for 29 years, which would mean that she moved to South Dakota in 1886, when she was 14-years-old.24 This is the same year that Lena’s cousin Kate Huppler Dellman moved to South Dakota with her husband J. H. Dellman.25 Kate was the second daughter of Jacob Huppler. If it is true that three-year-old orphaned Lena was taken in by Jacob Huppler, then Kate would have been sixteen-years-old at the time. Around five years later, in December 1880, Kate married Julius Dellman.26 Then, in the same year that Christian Huppler moved to Codington County, the Dellmans moved to Watertown, South Dakota. Perhaps young Lena Huppler had joined the Dellmans during their move to South Dakota.
According to family lore learned by one of Christian Huppler’s descendants, Christian was instrumental in bringing all of his siblings to South Dakota.27 Briefly, the following information is known about the residences of Christian and his siblings as young adults.
- “Christian’s name is one of 22 settlers who signed a petition filed April 16, 1889 asking that the area be organized into a civil township known as Phipps Township.”28
- It is not yet known which family took in Rosetta Huppler when her parents died, nor when and how she made her way to South Dakota. But she was living in Phipps Township, Codington County, South Dakota when she married Gottlieb Christian in 1900.29
- Anna Elizabeth “had her own homestead near the McIntyre home which was north of Watertown and just west of Rauville.”30 Also, she and her husband Dougal Campbell were living in Phipps Township in 1900.31
- As a young man John Huppler must have lived in South Dakota for a short time. He was there in 1892 when his sister Lena married Herbert Bevers. John and his sister Anna Elizabeth were witnesses who signed Lena and Herbert’s marriage certificate.32 John must have returned to Wisconsin about 1893 because he was married there about 1894.
- Little is known about Friedrich. As yet, no record has been found of his living in South Dakota. Some family historians give him a death date of about the year 1900. Perhaps he died in the south of malaria, as one story reports about one of the Huppler boys.33
- According to Lena’s marriage license dated November 1892, she was a resident of Watertown, Codington County, South Dakota at that time.34
- The Huppler name is spelled in a variety of ways on different documents. When a document is referenced, the name is spelled as it is written in the document.
- “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QK97-V815 : 11 March 2018), John Huppeler, 1874; citing Immigration, New York City, New York, United States, NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 175,744.
- “Declaration of John Huppler,” (Circuit Court, Monroe County, Wisconsin: June 12, 1874).
- Wisconsin Historical Society; Madison, Wisconsin; Census Year: 1875; Roll: 3 (https://ancestry.com. Wisconsin, State Censuses, 1855-1905 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007).
- Both names (Anna Elizabeth) are used throughout this article because some resources refer to her as Anna and some refer to her as Elizabeth, Liz or Lizzie.
- Wisconsin Historical Society; Census Year: 1875.
- Wisconsin Historical Society; Census Year: 1875.
- Jenkins Methodist Home News, v. 6 no. 3, “105th Birthday” (Watertown, South Dakota: Jenkins Methodist Home, August 1972), 1.
- M. A. Bevers, email communication to M. Wilson, April 20, 2020.
- “United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MW9S-VXG : 18 March 2020), William Sawyer, 1860.
- “United States Census, 1870”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MN9L-331 : 19 March 2020), William Sawyer, 1870.
- “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MN4R-LFZ : 17 September 2017), William P Sowyer, Burns, La Crosse, Wisconsin, United States; citing enumeration district ED 44, sheet 335A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,255,432.
- M. A. Bevers, notes of an interview with Geraldine Huppler, widow of Jim Huppler, July 1991 (posted to Johannes Hüpperle in “Bevers-Daily-McFerran-Nelson Families” family tree on Ancestry.com, n.d.).
- Jenkins Methodist Home News, “105th Birthday.”
- Shaw-Messer Funeral Home, “Anna E. Campbell, 1867-1972” (Watertown, South Dakota: Shaw-Messer Funeral Home, January 3, 1973).
- “William McIntyre Family,” In The First 100 Years in Codington County, South Dakota, 1879-1979, by Codington County History Book Committee (Watertown, South Dakota: Watertown Public Opinion Print, 1979): 264.
- “William McIntyre Family,” In The First 100 Years in Codington County, South Dakota, 1879-1979: 264.
- “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MNHW-FTG : 23 August 2017), Ester Mcintyre, Sparta, Monroe, Wisconsin, United States; citing enumeration district ED 29, sheet 93A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,255,439.
- Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 28 March 2020), memorial page for Esther E Husted McIntyre (27 May 1837–8 Jul 1912), Find a Grave Memorial no. 88550806, citing Leon Cemetery, Sparta, Monroe County, Wisconsin, USA; Maintained by Susan Hunt Williams (contributor 47664730).
- Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 28 March 2020), memorial page for Alexander “Alex” McIntyre (18 Jun 1838–18 Nov 1907), Find a Grave Memorial no. 88523698, citing Leon Cemetery, Sparta, Monroe County, Wisconsin, USA; Maintained by Susan Hunt Williams (contributor 47664730).
- “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MN4R-RN5 : 17 September 2017), Jacob Kipher, Burns, La Crosse, Wisconsin, United States; citing enumeration district ED 44, sheet 341B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,255,432.
- “Christian Huppler Family,” In The First 100 Years in Codington County, South Dakota, 1879-1979, by Codington County History Book Committee (Watertown, South Dakota: Watertown Public Opinion Print, 1979): 208.
- M. A. Bevers, email communication to M. Wilson, April 20, 2020.
- “South Dakota State Census, 1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MMHW-WHC : 29 July 2017), Lena Bevers; citing State Historical Society, Pierre; FHL microfilm 2,283,122.
- “J. H. Dellman Family,” In The First 100 Years in Codington County, South Dakota, 1879-1979, by Codington County History Book Committee (Watertown, South Dakota: Watertown Public Opinion Print, 1979): 156.
- “J. H. Dellman Family,” In The First 100 Years in Codington County, South Dakota, 1879-1979: 156.
- M. L. Winzenburg, email communication with K. Bevers, Apr. 19, 2017.
- “Christian Huppler Family,” In The First 100 Years of Codington County, South Dakota, 1879-1979: 208.
- M. A. Bevers, notes of the marriage record of Rosa Huppler and Gotlip (sp?) Christian (posted to Rosetta Huppler in “Bevers-Daily-McFerran-Nelson Families” family tree on Ancestry.com, n.d.).
- Jenkins Methodist Home News, “105th Birthday.”
- “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MMRS-CZZ : accessed 15 April 2020), Anna E Campbell in household of Degald Campbell, Fuller, Richland & Phipps Townships, Codington, South Dakota, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 102, sheet 7B, family 131, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,548.
- “Marriage License of Herbert J. Beavers and Lena Huppler” (Circuit Court, Codington County, South Dakota: November 23, 1892).
- M. A. Bevers, notes of an interview with Geraldine Huppler.
- “Marriage License of Herbert J. Beavers and Lena Huppler.”